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Pick and Place vs CAD File

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Hello everyone, I was wondering for a long time, what are... - Sep 21, 2017 by SMT Division  


Pick and Place vs CAD File | 21 September, 2017

Hello everyone,

I was wondering for a long time, what are the differences between pick and place and CAD Files.

Can anyone list me all (as many as you can) differences between these two types of files. I know there are a lot of software solutions for editing CAD files and they are from 10 to 10000 euros. So my question is what are the differences between .csv excel files with pick and place coordinates and .cad, .neu, etc.?

Best Regards! -Ivan

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Pick and Place vs CAD File | 21 September, 2017

Pick and Place file is a plain text file that usually contains the placement coordinates together with package type and ref designators. CAD file contains all the information about the assembly - PCB and components/packages both text and graphical representation.

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Pick and Place vs CAD File | 22 September, 2017

So, for Pick and Place machies, will I see any improvements on placement or anything else using CAD instead of plain Pick and Place? Don't know does it metter but I'm using Universal Instruments machines.

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Pick and Place vs CAD File | 22 September, 2017

No, it wouldn't affect anything. P&P file will work just fine for that purpose, as it holds all the information you need(Ref. Des, X, Y, Angle, Layer.....).

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Pick and Place vs CAD File | 22 September, 2017

In my experience the main advantage of the ASCII CAD format is that it combines the centroid data, rotations, and package information for your CAM software (at least it does for what we use) to draw the part shapes into the visual assembly aids.

If you don't use a CAM software package and you just want to generate machine programs, I don't know what benefit the CAD file would give you.

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Pick and Place vs CAD File | 23 September, 2017

In most cases PnP files are all that is needed for SMT program generation.

BUT, it depends on origin reference of this data as exported to PnP and could be off in X,Y and rotation of image pending when PnP Data is exported.

Also Rotation of parts can be issue, needing a sticky tape run to determine difference from CAD rotation and Machine Rotation Offsets.

Also you often need to merge BOM information with the CAD, so can do this manually with Excel and the like or use dedicated NPI Software be this from your SMT Vendor or more advanced Third Party Software that is available.

This is what Full CAD data , like ASCII EDA CAD exports , ODB++ and the like can help sort this out as have pin info and can visualize rotation intent. Using NPI CAM-CAD-BOM processing Software prior to just using exported PnP only, can save alot of work off PC often done on SMT line.

At end of day PnP can be used for SMT but need add BOM, need to locate the PnP relative to PCB and or Panel, Need S&R data, Fid Locations , Bad Mark Locations , Rotation Correction etc etc, and having just PnP means more manual work...

For efficient SMT Data Prep , you really need to invest in available tools that can process PnP-BOM-GERBER-CAD data and deliver a validated corrected PnP, or Machine Format program....if want less on line issues...

Above is most relevant to CEM providers more so then OEM as they can control some of above to minimise data variation issues. CEM have less control to get data sets right first time....without extra tools in tool box.

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Pick and Place vs CAD File | 25 September, 2017

At the moment we do it like this:

We get .csv or .txt pick and place file and .csv or excel bom file. Then I verify every single placement manualy with BOM and delete placements that are not listed on BOM. (Yes, you are right, I do it for 30 placements and for 300 palcements aswell :D) after that I import project into machine, draw PCB layout and draw every new component that we don't already have in our Database, then we use double sided type or spray adhesive on PCB to check placement x, y and theta. If I ask for CAD (which I think our customer can export from any PCB design tool with two-three clicks I would be able to import into any CAD Editor and check placement before I even import project into machine. Could I compare Pick and Place with BOM somehow automaticly by some software or I need to do it manualy as I'm doing it right now? Can you recommend me any CAD editor for that use? Freeware or paywere software? Since CAD contains component dimensions and drawing, is there any posibility that machine can read it from CAD without drawing compont into component database? Anyone with any expiriance with Universal Instruments machines?

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Pick and Place vs CAD File | 25 September, 2017

You can get DNP(do not place/populate)list in the P&P file/CAD file or BOM from your customer. You can also use Excell functions to find all your DNP positions. Definitely don't do it one by one.

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Pick and Place vs CAD File | 25 September, 2017

UniSoft ( has software that will program your pick and place in other production equipment from either CAD or Gerber or XY rotation and BOM files quickly.


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Pick and Place vs CAD File | 25 September, 2017

Try my program PCBSynergy if you want a freeware solution.

If your machine is not supported then send me some valid placement files and the CAD file you used to generate it and I will add it to the program. I have only the Universal HSP4875 *.PCA format at the moment.

regards sarason

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Pick and Place vs CAD File | 29 September, 2017

Interesting, I work much the same way as Ivan up to the sticky tape part, plodding through the BOM against the pick and place file and downloading the relevant datasheets to verify packages, this can be tedious but usually gets much quicker the more work you get from a given customer. On our machine (Essemtec) I can load a bare board and then inspect each placement position in turn, the machine software overlays the component outline allowing me to verify orientation etc. This is also a feature on Europlacer machines and I'm pretty sure I've seen similar tools in the promo videos for ASM and Fuji, I would have expected Universal to offer something similar given the type of machines they offer.

More often than not however NO FIT parts are marked as such in the pick and place file, I guess it depends when and how they generate the file for you.

Things can get tricky when you get customers that don't print a silkscreen at all, but IME those types of customer probably couldn't generate a decent cad file for you anyway as they're using something shonky like KiCad

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Pick and Place vs CAD File | 2 October, 2017

This is a way of doing it, but it has too many disadvantages. First, you need to stop the line to do what you described, which I think is huge minus. You should be able to verify your program, packages and orientations from your desk. When you throw it on the line it should be pretty much plug and play.Offline programming is the key.

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Pick and Place vs CAD File | 6 October, 2017

I agree, in Essemtec's case all they needed to to make that 100% friendlier was let the layout visualiser be able to read and display some gerber data (paste and overlay). Otherwise the offline solution is to hold up a blank board/printout to verify things against what is displayed on screen. Humans on the whole a pretty crap at complex "spot the difference" so things do slip through that way. Running the NPI process physically on the machine helps double check the offline process and the integrity of the data.

Of course the extreme "online" setup method is to manually set the locations of every part using a BOM and the Fiducical camera. I recently encountered a CEM that setup a fairly densely populated board this way because "their software wasn't compatible with the data". Given the data supplied was basically a CSV file as Centroid files tend to be I fail to understand what their issue was. What should have been a quick task took them 3 days all because the operator was either a muppet/didn't know how to adapt the data in excel or perhaps they hadn't paid for what most people would assume was a necessary module in their placement software.

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Pick and Place vs CAD File | 8 October, 2017

I see this thread has altered a little from the original question to what the Op was actually getting at which is how do you know it is right? Specifically rotation on the board and how that relates to how it came from the feeder or tray. There is a particularly good explanation here.

for several video's

then look in appendix b of the manual for about the best description of tape on reel rotation and appropriate standards I have ever seen on the web, so good I would never write my own.


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Pick and Place vs CAD File | 18 October, 2017


Pick and Place file is included in CAD file. CAD file contains full information about a board including internal layers, silk, PAD/Component structure, and more.

You can use Pick and Place (PnP) file on preparing SMT Programs. In case of small boards, this is a perfect solution. But if you want more (such as prepare SMT program for board with 300+ placements), we suggest to use a CAD file and suitable solution.

Also, you need a CAD file for PCB troubleshooting and other steps on electronics production.

You can read about our solutions on our website: Also, you can follow me and the company page on LinkedIN (find Proventus Technologies).

Best Regards, Alexei

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Pick and Place vs CAD File | 24 November, 2017

Since I'm working at EMS company, have you ever meet problems with customers, that they don't want to send you CAD file, so they send only .txt/.csv Pick and Place instead?

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Pick and Place vs CAD File | 24 November, 2017

Some Customers normally don't share CAD data in order not to copy the design. What you can do is use the Pick and Place file then plot to the pcb paste/silkscreen layer of the gerber using software. Not sure if your universal machine can load a gerber file. In flexa below is our process for pick and place file: 1. load gerber 2. load pick and place file then align 3. load BOM in order to remove all DNI or skip component 4. Align all orientation base on gerber silksreen/pad and create part library.

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Pick and Place vs CAD File | 26 November, 2017

Hi Ivan,

Our solution works with 3 type of data with XY: 1. CAD - the best choice but, as you mention, I isn't available for all products. From our experience, it is available in 30%-50% of products. 2. IPC - This file available in 80%-90% of products. It doesn't pass PCB internal structure but it is much better than Pick and Place file. Our solution can use this file like a CAD file. Also, It is available with Gerber files. 3. Pick and Place - Our solution support those files and you can merger gerber information for PADs view.

For more information you can send me an email:

Also, you can read about our solutions on our website:

Best Regards, Alexei

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Pick and Place vs CAD File | 26 November, 2017

Unisoft ( has been importing all type of CAD, GERBER, XY Rotation and BOM files for over 30 years to quickly Program your PCB ASSEMBLY, AOI and TEST equipment also creates process sheets and kitting labels for assembly aids to document your assembly process. Quotation and cost estimation report - instantly receive a report containing component counts for top and bottom of the PC Board broken down by SMT, Fine pitch, BGA’s, Thru-hole, etc. Instantly create a component part cost report to quickly estimate the total part cost for the PC Board and breakdown by part number. Export a standardized BOM for Part Sourcing, MRP, ERP, etc. Also create a report of the total solder joint count for Defect Per Million Operations (DPMO) for quality tracking for the PC Board broken down by SMT and Thru Hole and part number. Additionally the software provides extremely fast PC Board first article inspection and general inspection. These features are great time savers for Contract and OEM manufacturers. >> contact me for details at - rich larue

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Pick and Place vs CAD File | 26 June, 2018

It's been a while since this thread was active. What software are you using guys? Any software you can recommend me to use in that purpose?

Best Regards Ivan

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